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Butt kick-starts personal title drive

Outside the game his great passion is classic cars, so Jörg Butt knows that you shouldn’t simply throw things onto the scrapheap just because they’ve been around for a while. That’s something you can say of Butt himself. Coming to Bayern as the no. 2 goalkeeper, the 35-year-old has carved out a regular place for himself as the last line of defence for the record German title-holders and now, in the autumn of his career, is keen to record his greatest achievement as a professional – winning a championship for the first time.

It’s not surprising that Butt’s burning focus is the drive to catch up in the Bundesliga title race. “The championship is a massive target for me,” he commented during the training camp in Dubai. “The team really has the ability to do it.” The resumption of Bundesliga action against Hoffenheim next week is “absolutely crucial in order to send a message to the rest of the league. We have to be right on the ball straightaway and win.”

Stabilising factor

Butt’s ability is something the team can rely on in the title race, as his performance in the first half of the season demonstrated – in two ways. He ended 2009 ranked second by football magazine kicker out of the Bundesliga’s 18 goalkeepers with an average rating of 2.68. And as a penalty-taker, his successful conversion brought Bayern level at 1-1 during the “miracle of Turin” on the way to the team’s 4-1 humbling of Juventus.

“He is a stabilising factor in the team, and that is always important for a goalkeeper,” said Louis Van Gaal in praise of his no. 1. In addition, Butt is the surest penalty-taker in the side (“He’s the best,” says the coach), which is why he takes them. Van Gaal is aware that this could be dangerous if Butt failed to score and the opposing team caught him on the counter-attack, but the coach insists: “I have faith in him.”

Performance is everything

A native of Oldenburg in the north-east German state of Lower Saxony, now in his second season with Bayern, Butt has long enjoyed the trust of his team-mates. “I believe that in my first season I quickly earned a reputation for myself as someone who could be relied upon,” he said. “That can only come from performance, in training and in matches.”

“Right from the start,” Butt says, he also took on responsibility within the dressing-room. That goes without saying, he argues. “As an experienced player you have an extra duty to express your opinions, including to the coach, and to help younger players.” Qualities on and off the pitch, experience, desire for championship success – it’s a mix that ensures Jörg Butt still has plenty of mileage in him.